Before the psychological thriller “The Savage” can begin shooting next year, there’s plenty of work to be done, including shoring up the remainder of its $2 million budget, hiring more actors and picking shooting locations.

But the film already has a head start on one critical part of the process: marketing.

As part of a social media campaign, the movie’s producers have partnered with FilmBreak, an online Hollywood startup that launched last month to allow filmmakers to post updates about their unmade projects early in the process.

“We want to help filmmakers build an audience as early in the cycle as possible,” said Darren Marble, co-founder of FilmBreak. “A filmmaker now has the ability to find and engage their audience early on.”

Just a few years ago, a movie in preproduction was all but a secret to the public, but the rise of social media has led producers to provide fans with tidbits of production news throughout the process. Now, a diverse group of companies, from FilmBreak to technology giant IBM, is offering filmmakers a way to use social media to gauge whether fans are interested in their movies.

FilmBreak, for instance, features early trailers, synopses and fan comments, and it even allows visitors to show their interest in projects by clicking a big red button, demonstrating to potential financiers that a film has a built-in fan base. The company, which has four employees, including Co-founder Taylor McPartland and Chief Technology Officer Stephen Corwin, is based at io/LA, an entertainment and technology co-working space and business incubator in Hollywood.

The new companies specializing in social media marketing and analytics hope to help filmmakers both promote their projects and cut through the social media clutter to extract usable data – and the companies are already changing the way movies are being marketed.

“We’ll certainly focus on marketing earlier than we traditionally have with other films,” said Jed Weintrob, a producer of “The Savage.” “The excitement starts as you (begin) actually building the project in a public way.”

Sophisticated campaigns

Big studios are increasingly looking to social media as a tool for marketing and audience engagement, but the strategy can be hit or miss. For instance, viewers often take to Facebook or Twitter to share their reactions to new trailers – and it’s not always positive.

The question has become how to use such information.

With that in mind, an L.A. unit of IBM recently rolled out a software and hardware platform to analyze sentiment from vast numbers of social media users. The information can be a harbinger for a movie’s success or failure at the box office, with possible applications that include steering a studio’s other marketing efforts or, possibly, casting decisions.


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